Although studies have shown that corporate training and education combining online and face-to-face elements works better than purely face-to-face instruction or purely online instruction, many companies are still trying to determine how to best leverage the concept of blended learning into business success. Portugal is one country that has taken the proverbial bull by the horns to make the most of blended learning.
In a survey of companies certified by the Government Labour Office to provide distance training, Lisbon University Institute’s findings show that blended learning has already overtaken eLearning, accounting for 20% of corporate training efforts. Traditional face-to-face learning still accounts for 65% of corporate learning, and eLearning’s share stands at 15%.
Portuguese companies tend to start a blended learning course with a face-to-face session. Only 11.8% of Portuguese corporate blended learning courses start online, whereas 79.4% start with a face-to-face meeting. The remaining 8.8% vary which format is used at the start of a course.
The online portions of blended learning courses are supported by the use of a learning management system (LMS), with 75.8% of companies using an established online LMS such as eLeaP, Moodle, Blackboard, Formare, and others, while the remaining 24.2% developed their own LMS in-house. In addition, more than half of the organizations (58.8%) also make use of a learning content management system (LCMS).
Those basic statistics show the extent of blended learning efforts among Portuguese companies, and it’s clearly gaining in popularity, but there are still challenges to face and address. Trainees who participate in blended learning have highlighted the following six obstacles affecting their experience:
- Ineffective time management.
- Lack of self-discipline.
- Insufficient hardware that minimizes or disables the use blended learning training solutions, such as low-quality graphic cards, lack of flash player, poor Internet connection, and so on
- Difficulty working as part of a team.
- Difficulty in using the eLearning platform or LMS.
- Poor quality of learning content.
While these obstacles are nothing particularly new, the course coordinators have their own nuanced view of trainee attitudes, which they feel tend to fall into three broad groupings: Those who are enthusiastic about blended learning (proactive), those who start skeptical but gain confidence through participation (evolutionary), and those who never feel at ease with blended learning and prefer traditional methods (reactive). Because the course coordinators are in the training trenches on a daily basis, they are confident in reporting that 67.6% of trainees are proactive, 20.6% are evolutionary, and 11.8% are reactive in their attitudes towards blended learning. These figures bode well for the continued expansion of blended learning in corporate Portugal.